Happy birthday, Calvin Blackman Bridges

Alice McCarthy, January 11th, 2011 | Filed under
  • Calvin Blackman Bridges (1889-1938)
    Photo courtesy of Cold Spring Harbor
    Laboratory Archives

In an earlier post we took note of the birthday of Nettie Maria Stevens, noted female geneticist whose research on chromosomes of the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster furthered understanding of chromosomal sex determination.

Today, we acknowledge the birthday of another fruit fly geneticist who helped lay the groundwork for Dr. Stevens's discoveries. Calvin Blackman Bridges (1889-1938) was a contemporary of Stevens and worked with other fly geneticists, including Alfred Sturtevant and Herman Muller, in the famed fruit fly laboratory of Thomas Hunt Morgan at Columbia University. Bridges's Ph.D. thesis on "Non-disjunction as proof of the chromosome theory of heredity" (conclusion provided here) was the first paper in the first issue of the journal Genetics in 1916.

Broad researchers continue mining Drosophila's genetic riches to the present day. In a December 22, 2010 paper in Science Manolis Kellis and colleagues reported findings from the Drosophila model organism Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (modENCODE) project where they generated more than 700 data sets describing nearly all of the functional elements of the Drosophila genome in detail. The aim is to allow scientists to study those elements in the fly that are also found in the human genome for a clearer understanding of how these elements contribute to human disease and health. Read more about the background and implications of this project in an interview with Manolis.